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Accuracy of anterior nasal swab rapid antigen tests compared with RT-PCR for massive SARS-CoV-2 screening in low prevalence population

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The aim was to determine the accuracy of anterior nasal swab in rapid antigen (Ag) tests in a low SARS-CoV-2 prevalence and massive screened community. Individuals, aged 18 years or older, who self-booked an appointment for real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test in March 2021 at a public test center in Copenhagen, Denmark were included. An oropharyngeal swab was collected for RT-PCR testing, followed by a swab from the anterior parts of the nose examined by Ag test (SD Biosensor). Accuracy of the Ag test was calculated with RT-PCR as reference. We included 7074 paired conclusive tests (n = 3461, female: 50.7%). The median age was 48 years (IQR: 36-57 years). The prevalence was 0.9%, that is, 66 tests were positive on RT-PCR. Thirty-two had a paired positive Ag test. The sensitivity was 48.5% and the specificity was 100%. This study conducted in a low prevalence setting in a massive screening set-up showed that the Ag test had a sensitivity of 48.5% and a specificity of 100%, that is, no false positive tests. The lower sensitivity is a challenge especially if Ag testing is not repeated frequently allowing this scalable test to be a robust supplement to RT-PCR testing in an ambitious public SARS-CoV-2 screening.

TidsskriftAPMIS - Journal of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)95-100
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2022

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